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Vee Jay Records

Profile:

US label
Vee Jay was founded in 1953 in Gary, Indiana, USA by Vivian Carter and James C. Bracken (Mr. & Mrs. Bracken), who used their first initials for the label’s name. The first song they ever recorded made it to the top ten of the US rhythm & blues charts. Within a short time, Vee Jay was the most successful black-owned record company in the U.S.A. It was the first American company to sign The Beatles. In one month alone in early 1964, they sold 2.6 million Beatles singles.

When Beatles’ sales skyrocketed. Capitol Records, who had earlier turned down the Beatles, started filing lawsuits against Vee Jay to get the group back, as reported by Mike Callahan in “The Vee Jay Story” in Goldmine (May 1981). The cost of defending the lawsuits, in addition to Ewart Abner’s poor financial management and gambling habit, wiped out Vee Jay’s money and credit, and put the company out of business.

It reorganized as VJ International in 1967 after company executives Randy Wood and Betty Chiapetta bought the label from its bankruptcy trustee and operated it mainly to liquidate existing stock and lease the Vee-Jay masters to other companies; it released its own records (reissues and previously unreleased material) in 1975 but had trouble finding distributors to carry these albums.

In 1990, Chameleon Music Group president Daniel Pritzker formed a limited liability partnership and bought VJ International from Chiapetta and began reissuing Vee-Jay material on CD until Chameleon became inactive in 1995. The company was reactivated in 1998 under the management of Michele Tayler, who cut an agreement with Rhino Records (2) for North American licensing of the catalog.

Vee Jay's catalog is currently owned by the Concord Music Group, which also owns Fantasy Records among its holdings.

45 RPM Catalog Number, Date and Label Identification:
100 through 223 (1953–1956): Maroon label with thin outer silver circle. Does not have "Trademark Reg." or "Made In The U.S.A." on the label.
224 through 286 (1956–1958): Maroon label with thin outer silver circle. Does not have "Trademark Reg." but does have "Made In The U.S.A." on the label.
287 through 353 (1958–1960): Maroon label with thicker outer silver circle. Has "Trademark Reg." but does not have "Made In The U.S.A." on the label.
354 and higher (1960 forward): Black label.
Vee Jay 280 had the thicker outer line, but was an exception to the rule. Red plastic exists in some numbers in the 100 series. When the Beatles became popular in January 1964, Vee Jay releases poured forth, using a wide assortment of label colors and designs.

Sublabels:Abner, Blues And Gospel Train, Exodus Records (4), Falcon (6), Interphon Records, Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz, Oldies 45, Spiritual Series, Tollie Records, Vee Jay Blues & Pops Series, ...
Contact Info:

as VJ International:
Vee Jay International Records
131 E. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502
(no longer active)

Current Address:
The Vee-Jay Limited Partnership
43 Chestnut Woods Road
Redding, CT 06896
USA

Phone: 203.938.2404
Fax: 203.938.5533
Email: [email protected]

Links:veejayrecords.net , bsnpubs.com , campber.people.clemson.edu , rateyourmusic.com , blog.history.in.gov , jerryosborne.com

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